New Fort Smith High School Would Yield Tax Increase

Fort Smith Public Schools could soon add another high school. The district says property taxes would have to go up to fund the project.

“Very quickly our senior highs are going to be well over capacity,” said Dr. Benny Gooden, Superintendent of Schools.

Gooden says the district is expanding. He estimates they gain about 100 to 150 students a year.

“It’s not something that’s dramatic, but it’s certainly something you better plan for,” said Gooden.

Northside and Southside High Schools are landlocked which makes them difficult to expand.

School Board President Dr. David Hunton says adding on is not always the best choice. “It sometimes costs more to do a redo than it does to do new construction,” said Hunton.

The district says the new high school would sit on several acres of land off Highway 255 at Chaffee Crossing.

Hunton says a millage increase is the only way the district can afford a new high school. Voters would have to agree to higher property taxes.

“It’s hard to ask the tax payers for more money, but we’ve not done so since the mid 80’s,” said Hunton.

School board members say the new high school is not a done deal. They are still in the early planning stages.

“We hope to be ahead of that curve before we have a standing room only problem at the high school,” said Gooden.

The district says it will take years to fund a build a new high school.

Hunton says a mil increase would also fund improvement projects at existing schools.

They are also looking at other options for dealing with the growth like expanding the schools that are already built and reconfiguring campuses.

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